After 35 years, 'Papillon' gets Hollywood remake

When a film about a petty criminal who was wrongly convicted of murder and banished to a desert island colony was released in 1973, it instantly earned a place in movie folklore for the phenomenal on-screen chemistry between its two lead stars, Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.

Now, 35 years after the two screen convicts plotted and schemed to escape their destinies, Hollywood film producers have turned their attentions to making a modern day version of the classic, Papillon.

The film, adapted from the autobiography of Henri Charriere, is to be remade by the Los Angeles producer, Branko Lustig, responsible for films such as Schindler's List and Gladiator, and John Kelly, who made The Black Dahlia. He will team up with the Spanish production company, Atlantia Canarias. In its early stage of development and still in need of a director, its backers have already allotted a budget of $90m (£45m), according to Variety magazine.

The original action film, billed as "the greatest adventure of escape", follows the story of Henri "Papillon" Charriere, played by McQueen, who is condemned to life in a penal colony in French Guiana and stages countless failed escape attempts. McQueen teams up with Hoffman, who plays the older, more awkward Louis Dega, a friend to Papillion who agrees to protect him while they are incarcerated on "Devil's Island".

It became the definitive action adventure movie, nominated for Oscars and Golden Globe awards including a nomination for McQueen's lead role, hailed by critics as a "perfect performance".

Yesterday, film industry specialists suggested the remake could be commercially successful, especially with powerful Hollywood producers on board. Ali Jaffar, Europe correspondent at Variety, said the key to its success would lie in its choice of cast. "The film depends on who you cast for it. Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman are two icons of cinema and to replicate their chemistry would be virtually impossible. What I imagine film-makers would want is to find two talented actors who create their own chemistry, an entirely different chemistry from the original cast."

He was hopeful about the success of a film based on a memoir. "I think any remake is a risky endeavour, particularly one which is affectionately remembered. But it has source material from the book which can be updated for the 21st century. The 1973 film was just one interpretation of the book, and this one can be very different. When you are remaking a book as opposed to the film, one has the licence to be more creative," he said.

Nick James, editor of the British Film Institute Sight and Sound magazine, added: "Steve McQueen was in many ways the old fashioned action star, who was macho but cool, the kind of male star we don't really have any more, even though Brad Pitt tried to be a bit like McQueen. I could see Robert Downey Jnr playing the lead, he has a comical edge but he is cool too, and he has a dark side which he can exploit. With Dustin Hoffman's part, you need someone with the ability to be a chameleon, such as Philip Seymour Hoffman."

The remake will be led by the Spanish producers, Vicente Mora, Manuel Corbi and Roger Corbi, who said that most shooting, which is scheduled for September next year, would take place in the Canary Islands.

Hit remakes...

*Ocean's Eleven was box-office gold when Steven Soderbergh's version of the Sixties' classic came out in 2001.

*Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was just as popular as Gene Wilder's 1971 tour de force

*Martin Scorsese's Oscar-nominated The Departed, 2006, was based on the Hong Kong classic Internal Affairs.

...and misses

*The British sixties classic The Italian Job was re-located to Los Angeles for a disastrous remake released in 2006.

*The Coen brothers' and Tom Hanks' remake, in 2004, of Alec Guinness's The Ladykillers was not well received.

*The Stepford Wives remake proved to be unappealing at the box office in 2004, in contrast to the 1975 original.

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker